Adios 2012!! Hafa adai, 2013!! It is almost the end of an amazing year where Guam and the rest of the world experienced changes we're still trying to unravel and understand! We should count our blessings that we have not (knock on wood) been challenged by a major typhoon! While the mainland is freezing in blizzard conditions we are adjusting our thermostats downward! Things are slowly getting better for Guam and even our northern neighbors (can you believe that a 747 landed on Tinian?) where we continue to see an uptick in the visitor arrivals. We are hopeful that the Federal government will find some relief for the guest worker quandary presently threatening the CNMI's hospitality and service industries.
This week's newsletter will include the Top Ten Newsletter/Reviews for 2012. This will be our 467th newsletter!! We really appreciate your faithful readership as we continue to keep you informed on the current news and latest developments in our region's numerous restaurants and eateries!
Have a safe, prosperous, and Happy New Year!!
Ken, the Guam Food Guy and the staff of GuamDiner.com
Final Farmer to Grill Competition
Ernie Wusstig's Island View Farm
December 17, 2012
It was a day and night to remember as two competing chefs teams fired up the grills and created new taste sensations using locally-grown, farm raised produce from the soils of Guam. Held at popular corn farmer Ernie Wusstig's sprawling multi-acre farm in Dededo, this was the final cook-off between the winners of previous three Farmer to Grill competitions. These Farm to Grill competitions are a collaboration between the UOG Cooperative Extension Service (represented by Agronomist Bob Barber), the Micronesian Chefs Association, and the Guam Farmer's Cooperative Association.
The roots of this "best of three" Farmer to Grill Competition started with the August 23, 2011 event held at Bernard Watson's Farm in Yigo, where Meskla Owner/Executive Chef and MCA President Peter Duenas bested Table 35's Christopher Aguon and PROA's Geoffrey Perez. This was followed by the February 28, 2012 competition held at Candy Santos' Farm in Talofofo where Chef Kevin Dietrichs won over Hyatt's Executive Sous Chef Jo Ong and MWR's Executive Chef Robert Walter. On July 24, Chef Paul Kerner took the first place honors at Hamamoto Tropical Fruit World against competing chefs Soung-Jeagal , Executive Sous Chef from the Guam Marriott Resort, and Joel Arenas, Chef de Cuisine at Hilton's Fisherman's Cove. Unfortunately, Chef Dietrichs was unable to compete due to a family commitment that took him off island. For this competition, the remaining two teams were each given a Black Box of mystery ingredients consisting of local produce that needed to be used in their menu creations (appetizer, entree, and dessert).
The mystery ingredients required for use were Dagu yam (white), Dagu yam (purple), Tanduki (plantain), Pepino, Green Coconut, Sweet Corn, and Pumpkin Tips. Other ingredients in the box were Key lime, tangerines, shelled coconut, pickle fruit, pomelo, and pechay. Nearly 100 attendees were present for this event, which featured farm tours lead by Ernie Wusstig as well as a film presentation put on by Kimberlie Kihleng of the Guam Humanities Council called "Food Fight."
Although both teams wowed the judges with unprecedented innovative culinary creations, Team Meskla was declared the winner for preparing an astonishing variety of restaurant quality dishes fresh from the fields. Highlights included Chef Peter's 100% Vegetarian Lumpia that had roasted corn, roasted eggplant, tuba vinegar, plantains, bitter lettuce, onions and garlic, with a sweet and tangy sauce made from sour tangerines. Another outstanding creation was Chef Paul's Asian-inspired salad using bitter lettuce, grilled eggplant, squash, pickled star fruit, cherry tomatoes, and a dressing made from sweet chili sauce, rice wine vinegar, fish sauce, and a touch of sesame oil, topped by a freshly grated green coconut garnish. It should be noted that Chef Paul preceded each course with a special beverage concoction, the first being a sparkling wine with local mint, another being a special "beer", and the final a special Tea with a star-apple garnish. These were all enjoyed by most of the judges.
Chef Peter's Pomelo Salad also had Asian effects, with bitter lettuce, fresh lettuce, freshly grated coconut, a dressing made with pickled fruit and boonie pepper topped by fried local green onions and fried garlic chips. It was a simple, refreshing flavor. His main entree featured Tempura Pumpkin Tips (a first for anyone) and he had a chorizo gouda cheese stuffed pork tenderloin that was pan-fried and slow-roasted to a juicy, tender finish. This was atop a taro mash accompanied by sauteed pechay. Chef Peter created a boonie pepper truffle oil and complemented his tempura pumpkin tips with a soy butter sauce. His entree was joined by a finadene trio: Boonie Pepper Mash, Tuba vinegar finadene and Corn finadene.
Both chefs made whimsical desserts, with Chef Paul deriving a local-style Latiya trifle using honey pomelo jam, coconut custard, tangerine donne jelly, shaved green coconut on top, and a dagu coconut lumpia drizzled with honey and powdered sugar. Chef Peter created a Calamansi Panna Cotta with a spiced up lemon grass syrup, pepino, mangha, local ripe mango with fresh mint drizzled with balsamic syrup and sabayon sauce.
Naturally the extremely patient and ultimately grateful crowd was pleased to enjoy these two chefs creations without thought of winners and losers. That night everyone present was a winner and certainly ate the best, freshest, and tastiest food on Guam!! Biba Guahan Farmers and Chefs!
Ground Floor Bejjess Bldg.
Tamuning (Just South of Bank of Hawaii and across from MegaByte)
Hours : 11 a.m. - 8:30 p.m. Monday - Friday
12 p.m. - 5 p.m. Saturday
Closed on Sunday
I have to say thank you to Tad Miller for prompting and urging me to try the food at Bangkok Cuisine, certainly one of the newest and latest additions to our substantial list of Thai restaurants, of which there are nearly 20. This is still a relatively new eatery and it is not the most atmospheric when it comes to Thai decor and artwork, however it is well-lit, clean and comfortable, with a cozy-at-home relaxed feel to it. We're not there for the art, we're there for the food! I did happen to see Tad when I stopped by on Thursday for lunch. He was eating something I'd not seen at any local Thai restaurant yet. It was Sauteed baby Clams ($12) , and they looked ravishingly good! These were sauteed with a Thai sauce and had peppers, green onions, onions, basil, and garlic---I was even sucking on some of the shells!!!
I also ordered the Beef Salad ($8) which was quite spicy and well-marinated, perhaps a bit on the salty side if you are sodium sensitive. The dish was garnished by cooling cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, sweetly tart calamansi, and drizzled with ground red pepper and chopped green onions.
It wasn't my intention to imitate or copy others, but there was one table (it seemed that I knew people at 6 of the 7 or 8 tables that are in Bangkok Cuisine) that had Garlic & Black Pepper Shrimp ($12) which I had to try. This was an exceptional dish, with the crisply dry garlic having a nearly fresh panko texture and seasoned with ground black pepper over the plump, juicy shrimp - it didn't take long for these to disappear. I barley sipped on my Thai tea and hardly touched my steamed rice as I filled myself with protein.
I also need to mention that it was sometime shortly after I'd arrived that I was surprised to see Somjai Vongjalorn, the original founder/chef/owner of Se Somjai Restaurant, one of the island's revered legends. She just returned from Thailand (about 3 weeks earlier) and she is helping her daughter in law, Soraya Vongialorn with her new restaurant's cuisine. Later I gave Somjai a copy of a Stripes Guam edition that contained our write-up of Benika Ozawa's 2nd birthday party at Meskla! It was a special memory for Somjai since it was my review of Somjai Restaurant that prompted a visit to Guam by Junko Shimizu and her sister Kunie where agreed to have a "blind date" to eat at Somjai (see Guam Diner Newsletter August 24, 2007, Volume 7 Number 34). Junko had since married and has brought her young family to Guam to celebrate her daughter Benika's two birthdays with us.
My next course was one of my favorite Thai dishes, Pad Ka Praow with Pork ($8), Thai-style with Fried Egg. This was another treasure and I found myself eating this with minimal rice, even crunching on the boonie peppers (which had to burn). The basil and chili combination was awesome, and I love their use of local green beans.
My last dish received (I had ordered a Shrimp Penang, but it was ordained that I'd had enough) was the Pad Si Euw Chicken ($8), which had nicely cut broccoli pieces that had the right amount of crunch left in them. The wide flat noodles were sauteed perfectly and the chicken pieces were lean and plentiful. I liked this dish a lot even though I was too full to complete it. I was very pleased with this lunch feast and definitely will return for my Penang and other dishes. Soraya wanted to show me her Som Tum ($12) Papaya Salad that was ordered as Take-Out by a customer. I was intrigued to see that this dish was made with Blue Crab. I'll have to try that one, too!
Bangkok Cuisine does have a fast food 1-2-3 choice selection on Mondays - Thursdays during lunch. One Choice is $6.50, 2 choice is $7.50, and 3 choice is $8.50, with refillable Iced Tea for $2.00. I do recommend Bangkok Cuisine for a different take on Thai with "old school" influence thanks to the experienced coaching of Somajai! Khob-kun-Ka!
Guam Food Guy's Top 10 Reviews for 2012
The useful thing about lists is that they give people an easy-to-follow guide of places to try especially if they haven't been there yet or are new to Guam. Unfortunately, lists are by nature limited, and don't give a full representation of of the many excellent options not appearing on the list.
The reviews and/or newsletters are listed in chronological order so their placement is not any any indication of ranking. I hope you have the opportunity to experience these places and that you enjoy them as much as I did!
Guam Diner Bytes November 30, 2012 - Pika's Cafe to Open, Dusit Thani, 'Tis the Seasoning!, Benika Osawa turns 2, Table 35, Dabin Korean Fusion Style Restaurant, Katre Bistro
November 30th, 2012, Volume 12 Number 24
Guam Diner Bytes November 16, 2012 - Happy 20th Nikko Guam, Shoreline Closes/PROA to Open, Desperados Restaurant & Cantina, Australians Cook Up Italian, Sea Grill Restaurant's New Dinner and Tapas
November 16th, 2012, Volume 12 Number 23
Guam Diner Bytes November 9, 2012 - Auf Wiedersehen Chef Josef Budde, Team MCA Competes at Pacific Rim Challenge, Natibu Island Dance & Magic Dinner Show, Cup & Saucer Bakery & Crepe Cafe, Tony Roma's
November 9th, 2012, Volume 12 Number 22
Guam Diner Bytes October 26, 2012 - Happy Halloween!, Chef Mirko Agostini, taste, Meskla on the Cove, Manhattan Crab meat Specials, Marriott Cafe, Sagano Japanese Restaurant
October 26th, 2012, Volume 12 Number 21
Guam Diner Bytes September 28, 2012 - 3rd Annual Donne Festival, McKraut's Fast Food & Beer Garden, Pika's Cafe, Chao's Restaurant, Lemon Grass Thai Restaurant
September 28th, 2012, Volume 12 Number 19
Guam Diner Bytes August 31, 2012 - Brian Artero & Lone Star, Ban Thai Restaurant, Jeff's Pirates Cove, A Majestic Wine Dinner, Grill at Santa Fe, PROA Restaurant
August 31st, 2012, Volume 12 Number 17
Guam Diner Bytes August 17, 2012 - Brutus Spicy Burger, Menkui Ramen, Underwater World & Sea Grill, Denny's, Sakura Noodle House, Sugarnomics, Issin Japanese Restaurant
August 17th, 2012, Volume 12 Number 16
Guam Diner Bytes July 20, 2012 - Guam Farmers & Chefs Conference, Vitale's Italian Ristorante, Lone Star Steakhouse, Shirley's Coffee Shop, Logan Farms, Kar Kar Restaurant, Palm Cafe
July 20th, 2012, Volume 12 Number 14
Guam Diner Bytes June 8, 2012 - 6th Annual Mango Festival, Taste of the Marianas, Shenanigans Restaurant, 10th Annual Celebrity Chefs Winners, Curry Kebab, EN Japanese Restaurant
June 8th, 2012, Volume 12 Number 11
GuamDiner Bytes March 30, 2012 - Chopstix, Simon Sanchez Wins, Pancakes for Charity, Delmonico, Benkay Japanese Restaurant, Maila' ta Fan Chesa, Suphan Thai, Beer Gourmet Dinner
March 30th, 2012, Volume 12 Number 7